-Told them education is nonsense
-‘In the name of Sumpi, we pray’
-HIV positive members told to stop medication
On the instruction of Pastor Jacques Sumpi of the ‘AGAPA Kingdom Jehovah’s Nation’, dozens of followers have abandoned their school, jobs and families to serve him at his ministry in Freedom Square, in the heart of Katutura after being told it will bring them prosperity at the dawn of ‘rapture.’
His controversial methods have drawn criticism from thousands of people although members of his congregation swear by his methods – he is said to have claimed that he is the younger brother to Jesus and as such, congregants pray to ‘Sumpi’.
Last week’s revelations brought to light not only the frivolous antics Sumpi uses to brainwash these ‘disciples’ but how much society is taking the wrong route under the wings of churches often criticized, but not allowed to scrutinize.
The Patriot had the opportunity to sit with a former member of the church who left when she saw the house of God was indeed becoming that of Sumpi and nothing close to the Word of God.
Anna and Silvia, not their real names ( a former member and another one lost a sister to the church) have opened up and exposed more of their experiences at the church in Freedom Square. “Remember the South African congregants made to eat grass in a church last year, ours at home is not far from that.”
According to Anna, everything was well and godly in the beginning. This was in the year 2014 when she and her family joined the church. After all, there is nothing wrong with worshiping in a house of the Lord.
“The principles were set I think. The church had respectable people who really preached the truth. All of a sudden things just started going wrong. He [Sumpi] started telling us about rapture but it came with instructions to leave our jobs, school and other commitments, in the apparent preparation for rapture,” said Anna.
The announced day of ‘rapture’ was set for September 2016. The rapture is an event widely believed by Christians to signal the return of Jesus as promised on Ascension Day. Nothing happened in the set month and Sumpi told the congregants that the date was postponed for November the same year. During the wait for the date, congregants were told to stop with schooling, going to work as it did not matter with the world coming to an end.
“Students were told that school is a waste of time. Mothers took their children out of school. I also then took my daughter out of school who was grade 10 then. She failed at the end of the year. And still the rapture did not come. Silvia’s sister, a former nurse at Medi-clinic in Windhoek was told to not accept a promotion and a bursary to further her studies as it would be meaningless. The nurse has given her house to the church to go rent in a garage. Still, no rapture came, this is when we realized the man was lying to us,” said Anna who since left the church with her family.
According to Sumpi, who calls him the younger blood brother of Jesus, Jesus was not born on 25 December but on 17 December.
“From 2016, the church has been celebrating Christmas Day on the 17th December.”
“Because the rapture was not coming, the church ladies were told to cut their hair. He said the hair was preventing the coming of Christ. I at a time refused and that is when I was labelled ‘ the bad influence.’ The hair, he keeps at his house for reasons only he knows. When you are on your periods, you have to give him one of your bloody pads. Also, according to Sumpi, it is wrong for people to see your feet. You should wear socks at all times. When you wash your feet, with a sand-water-oil mixture, you do so fast and quickly put back the socks.”
Add to the mystery, when congregants come to church, they are told to walk around the church seven times shouting ‘Maranatha’. According to Sumpi, anyone who does not shout this, Jesus, his older brother, will not come.
A student named Deborah, who re-united with her mother last week after a period of three years has since abandoned her studies to serve ‘Sumpi’. The pastor released the student to her family with the mother breaking in tears of joy to the return of her first born.
Deborah has been a first year student for the past three students. Records from NUST show that the student has registered but never attended a single class. The whereabouts of money send to her monthly for rent and school is unknown after finding out that the student lived in church shelter.
“It is not like we cannot afford to pay for her accommodation. In fact, we send her N$6000 every month for rent and school, so where does that money go?” queried a concerned mother who added that whenever she called her daughter to come home, she was told that she would come later.
When the police raided the church last week, an amount of N$52 740 in cash was found in the church. It is said more money was found at the pastor’s residents. The wife, a Namibian respected retired nurse who got married to Sumpi is alleged to have given N$1 Million to the church from her retirement funds. Anna said she remembers vividly when the wife made the transfer.
“She gave all her money and only left with enough to pay off her house.” she said.
Speaking of bizarre rituals, Nashitye, Silvia’s sister was send by Sumpi to bury six bottles of anointed water in her village back in the north. It is believed that Nashitye had a bad dream of her family to which Sumpi answered that the six bottles should be buried in the village to save her family. This was done, and to date, the family still asks for the meaning of the ritual and when Sumpi is going to get rid of the buried bottles. Sumpi did not want to answer to this when asked.
Similarly, the sand, water and olive oil mixture which he feeds the congregants is another mystery. During feasts, congregants fast naked, and only eat the mixture. It is alleged that a drug addict who was on medication was fed the mixture during fasting and died. According to Sylvia, two patients one on ARV and another on TB medication died after being told to abandoned their medication. Another, known by the name Dorkas died after being given 40 days of fasting and only allowed to consume Sumpi’s holy waters. Yet another woman was told to fast for 14 days after giving birth. When the lady objected on the basis of breastfeeding her new born, Sumpi was unhappy and claimed disrespect by this member.
In the mix of this saga is Landine Karunga-Beukes a Tertiary Health care & Clinical Support Services director within the Ministry of Health and Social Services, who doubles up as church administrator. Questions are asked how Karunga-Beukes balances her leading role in a church that directs congregants to abandon their medication, considering the position she has in the health fraternity. Of course, when asked about the allegation, the Church Administrator feigned ignorance.
‘In the name of Sumpi’, not God, the congregants pray. According to Silvia as told by the man of God, his name means ‘judgment.’ He is the king of justice and one prays saying “I will serve my master forever, my mentor and everything.”
“And if someone dies from this church, you are told that the living doesn’t serve the dead, nobody must attend the funeral.”
The church members are placed in groups of disciples, Sumpi’s disciples. The four groups are G1, G3, G& and G12. In G1 is the wife of Sumpi and the rest of his close foot soldiers are scattered in the other groups.
Sumpi is also accused of, on numerous attempts trying to fondle with his female congregants. Should his attempts fail, he plays the victim before the real narrative goes public such that the congregants will be in his defense.
“He tries to sleep with the young ladies. If the lady does not want, he will come in front of the church saying that ‘soon some people will spread rumours about his name because they are being used by the devil.’ But we also know of a girl he used to sleep with. He used to pay rent for this girl until she decided to leave him,” said Silvia.
We can only do as much
Namibian Police Inspector Christina van Dunem Fonsech who heads the Khomas Regional Community Affairs has been at the root of misguiding churches in the region says the Police can only do as much with their hands already full.
“We can only do this much. Going forward, we should rather ask our lawmakers to hear us. There are so many things happening and breaking our communities and these are establishments established under the law. Our leaders must come to the rescue of this nation,” she said.
One of the confessions taken from a young congregant from church read; ‘All I want to do is kill someone and drink their blood.” What are you teaching people when you tell them education is not important but you have your own?”
“This is someone from a church and we should just be fine with this? How much do you want us to reveal about these churches breaking our families apart? I was being threatened all these days by unknown people and if I was a scared person, I would have pulled out. But no, we need to save our nation.”
Fonsech also blasted the community for, at times, not coming forth even when they have information.
“They see things but they don’t want to speak. The things at the church have been going on for long now but it is only now that people are speaking out. We need to work together with the police in order to fight evils in the country,” she said.
A YouTube channel, AGAPA.TV is available online showing activities done at the church. There are currently no recent uploads however. The activities of the church have since been suspended with police investigations ongoing.